Swing Era - Nat King Cole: Soundies & Telescriptions
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(Apr 13, 2004)
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Before achieving international pop stardom in the 50's, Nat King Cole enjoyed considerable success fronting his own trio in Hollywood. This video is a fascinating collection of early film shorts produced for theaters and television. Backed by such sidem
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The Soundies were Videos made in the 40's, and are definitely a must for Nat Cole fans.
You Won't like the White Face they made him wear with make-up.
Before proceeding allow me to explain soundies and telescriptions. A soundie is a mini music video that was popular during most of the 1940s. They were usually three minutes long and were presented on coin operated movie jukeboxes. A telescription - a television transcription - was also approximately three minute videos made for TV. The producer, Louis D. Snader, did made-for-TV shorts during 1951-52 and you will see the term Snader Telescription often used. Another distinction is soundies were often scripted and staged, while the telescriptions were live performances.
What this DVD contains is a set of 27 performances, divided between the two formats. Here are the performances:
5.The Trouble with Me Is You
7.For Sentimental Reasons
8.Thats My Girl
10.Because of Rain
12.This Is My Night to Dream
14.You Call It Madness
15.Got a Penny Benny
16.Come to Baby Do
17.Errand Boy for Rhythm
18.Is You Is or Is You Aint My Baby
19.I'm a Shy Guy
20.Who's Been Eating My Porridge
21.Frim Fram Sauce
23.Now He Tells Me
24.Breezy and the Bass
25.Solid Potato Salad
26.It's Better to Be by Yourself
As you can see, the music covers a lot of Nat's most popular work from the period, and, in fact, some of his most enduring classics.
My preference is the soundies because I happen to like the synergy among the first trio - Nat, Oscar Moore and Johnny Miller. That is not to say that Irving Ashby who replaced Moore on guitar and Joe Comfort who replaced Miller on bass by the time the telescriptions were filmed are bad. Ashby remains one of my favorite jazz guitarists and Comfort is a solid bassist. And, of course, the addition of Jack Costanzo on percussion on the later trio added a lot and allowed adding songs like Calypso Blues to the repertoire. As an aside, the later trio (Ashby-Comfort-Costanzo) did a remarkable job backing Nat in the Forgotten 1949 Carnegie Hall Concert.
Bottom line: if you are a fan this is a great addition to a music library because you can not only enjoy hearing Nat, but watch him too. If your video does turn out to be out of synch, then play the audio without the video and pretend it's a CD. After all, you will have 27 tracks of some of his best performances to enjoy.
The most annoying thing about these films is that the sound is badly out-of-synch on many of the telescriptions. These same songs can be found on the DVD "The Snader Telescriptions" from Storyville with much better synchronization. (But that disc doesn't have the soundies.)
The performances on this DVD are first rate and highly recommended. For those who only know Nat King Cole from his records, these films give you a chance to see as well as hear this great singer/piano player.